2018 Eutsuk Lake wildfire (File photo)

We need to change our fire behaviour

Most wildfires in BC during April and May were caused by humans.

It’s pretty easy not to start a forest fire. Regardless, most wildfires in BC during April and May 2019 were suspected to be caused by humans.

Climate change is certainly a factor in recent years, and it will continue to be. Unusually dry conditions have caught people off guard, and their fires grew out of control.

These conditions are the new normal. Naturally occurring forest fires will of course continue, as they rightfully should, but in our changing climate, people who set fires need to be more careful.

RELATED: Seven small wildfires burning in B.C. as warm weather brings dry conditions

On April 1st, 2019, a wildfire started in Squamish because of a backyard burn. On May 10th a 12 hectare wildfire started in Sayward after a slash burn got out of control. On May 13th a 250 hectare wildfire broke out in Oysoyoos because of a vehicle fire that spread to adjacent grass.

If you go and visit BC Wildfire Service online and open the interactive map, you’ll see that an overwhelming majority of the fires are caused by humans.

Whether you believe in climate change or not (it’s not really a debate though), one thing is clear: the people of British Columbia need to be much more mindful of their fire behaviour. Most of us are sick and tired of watching our province burn year after year because of preventable fires. 2017 and 2018 were both record setting years for forest fires. Estimates say the cost of 2018 fires is $615 million.

In response to the past two record setting years, the BC provincial govrnment has increased their budget for wildifre spending by 58 percent, brining the total annual budget to $101 million. That money will go toward funding more crews, enhancng aerial capacity, and funding fire prevention programs.

RELATED: North Island communities plan for wildfires amid mounting anxiety

One of the biggest things the government says it can do better is build relationships with communities to educate people on fire risks, and better fire behaviour.

As time goes on, we will see hotter, dryer, longer summers. This will likely result in worsening fire seasons as well.

Now is the time to reflect on our fire behaviour, and change it for the better. We can’t afford any more years like the last two.

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